Cubs re-thinking stance on FielderPujols sweepstakes?

598326.png

Cubs re-thinking stance on FielderPujols sweepstakes?

OK, now the Cubs may be in on the Prince FielderAlbert Pujols sweepstakes. But not for the reasons you would think.

Yes, the two first basemen are elite sluggers and impact players. However, because of the new collective bargaining agreement just reached last week, the Cubs are acknowledging that the road to building the team from within will be a lot tougher, according to FoxSports' Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal.

The new CBA is placing new restrictions on spending in the amateur draft and since teams lock up their big-time bats earlier in the player's career, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are apparently acknowledging the road to building the team back to sustained success is harder.

Which is why the two have suddenly changed their mind on pursuing Fielder and Pujols. Allegedly.

Rosenthal and Morosi are citing their major-league sources on all this. It's possible Theo is just leaking word of this to those "sources" to let the rest of the league know the new Cubs' front office is for real and they're ready to turn things around immediately.

Or maybe it's completely true and the new brass on the North Side really has changed their stance on pursuing one of the sluggers.

So which one will it be?

RosenthalMorosi state "sources" (there's that word again) think the Cubs are more interested in Pujols who, despite his age (3 years older than Fielder), is a better defender and in better physical condition than Fielder, whose body type is one of the major concerns for bidders.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I am still of the opinion neither guy signs with the Cubs. The idea Theo and Hoyer have is sustained success. They want to be like the Cardinals (three World Series appearances in the past decade). Not like the Cubs under Jim Hendry who threw a boatload of money at guys like Alfonso Soriano in an effort to just get over the hump and appear in even one World Series. Now how's that Soriano contract looking?

Stay tuned, as if Rosenthal and Morosi are right, this could become a big saga, especially with the Winter Meetings next week in Dallas.

Jake Arrieta expects Cubs to have the best rotation in baseball

Jake Arrieta expects Cubs to have the best rotation in baseball

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Jake Arrieta is a Cy Young Award winner who won't get the Opening Night assignment. John Lackey is a No. 3 starter already fitted for his third World Series ring. Kyle Hendricks led the majors with a 2.13 ERA last year and won't start until the fifth game of this season.  

Do you feel like this is the best rotation in baseball?

"We're up there, yeah," Arrieta said after homering off Zack Greinke during Thursday afternoon's 5-5 tie with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. "I think on paper – and with what we've actually done on the field – it's tough to not say that.

"We like the guys we have. People can rank them, but time will tell. Once we get out there the first four or five times through the rotation, I think you can probably put a stamp on it then, more so than now. 

"But, yeah, we stack up just as well as anybody out there, for sure."  

Arrieta made it through five innings against the Diamondbacks, giving up three runs and eight hits in what figures to be his second-to-last Cactus League tune-up before facing the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 4. 

The New York Mets blew away Cubs hitters with their power pitching and game-planning during that 2015 National League Championship Series sweep. The Washington Nationals are trying to keep Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg healthy and already watched Tanner Roark deliver for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. 

The Cubs dreaded the idea of facing Johnny Cueto in a possible elimination game at Wrigley Field last October. The Los Angeles Dodgers almost became a matchup nightmare for the Cubs with lefties Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill during the 2016 NLCS.

But slotting Hendricks at No. 5 – five months after he started a World Series Game 7 – is a luxury few contenders can afford. 

"That just speaks to our length in the rotation," Arrieta said, "and being able to keep relievers out of the game, longer than most teams. That's a big deal, especially when you get into July and August. 

"Obviously, Kyle could be a 1 or 2 just about anywhere. Not that he's not here. We've got several of those, which is a good problem to have. It's going to be favorable for us when there's a No. 4 or No. 5 guy in our rotation going up against somebody else's. Our chances are really good, especially with our lineup." 

Arrieta talked up No. 4 starter Brett Anderson as "a little bit like Hendricks from the left side" in terms of his preparation, cerebral nature and spin rate, a combination that makes him an X-factor for this rotation and an organization starved for pitching beyond 2017. 

The if-healthy disclaimer always comes with Anderson, who played with Arrieta on the 2008 Olympic team and has been on the disabled list nine times since then. Coming out of high school, Arrieta initially signed to play for Anderson's father, Frank, the Oklahoma State University coach at the time, before going in a different direction in a career that wouldn't truly take off until he got to Chicago. 

"We're all looking forward to seeing how we pick up where we left off," Arrieta said. "Judging by what we've done this spring and the shape guys are in and the health – I don't see any reason we can't jump out to an early lead like we did last year and sustain it throughout the entire season."
 

Cubs Talk Podcast: The making of Reign Men

cubscelebrate.jpg

Cubs Talk Podcast: The making of Reign Men

In the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull sits down with CSN executive producers Ryan McGuffey and Sarah Lauch, the creators of 'Reign Men: The Story Behind Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, which premieres March 27 at 9:30 p.m. on CSN.

McGuffey and Lauch share their experience making the 52-minute documentary as they sifted through hours of sound from the likes of Joe Maddon, Theo Epstein, Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo and more recapping one of the greatest baseball games ever played.

Plus, hear a sneak peak of 'Reign Men’ as Heyward and Epstein describe their perspective of the Rajai Davis game-tying homer and that brief rain delay that led to Heyward’s epic speech.

Check out the latest Cubs Talk Podcast right here: